Cobra Kai: Season 5

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Comedy;
Not rated.
Stars Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni Decenzo, Peyton List, Martin Kove, Vanessa Rubio, Thomas Ian Griffith, Dallas Dupree Young, Paul Walter Hauser, Yuji Okumoto, Robyn Lively, Sean Kanan.

The “Cobra Kai” creative team continues its efforts to rehabilitate The Karate Kid Part III with a thoroughly entertaining fifth season that brings multiple storylines to a head while weaving together several disparate threads from the “Karate Kid” mythology into a grand saga.

The season kicks off with the maniacal Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) expanding Cobra Kai dojos throughout Los Angeles. But he has bigger plans in motion and won’t let anything stand in his way, even his old partner Kreese (Martin Kove), who he frames for a crime to have him locked away in prison.

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), refusing to surrender to Silver’s ambitions, and haunted by Silver’s torment of him the 1980s, enlists the help of his old adversary Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) from Karate Kid Part II, to bring down Cobra Kai once and for all.

Meanwhile, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) heads to Mexico to find Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), who has run away south of the border to find the father he has never met.

As for the rest of the newer generation of Karate Kids, both Daniel’s daughter Sam (Mary Mouser) and her main rival, Tory (Peyton List), are troubled by their match in the finals of the All-Valley Tournament — Sam because she can’t understand how she lost, and Tory because she learns that Silver bribed the referee to guarantee her win.

A few timely appearances from even more Karate Kid III characters bring all the storylines into alignment and set the emotional stakes for an epic final confrontation with Silver.

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Obviously the idea of the youth of the San Fernando Valley being so swept up in karate that they take to brawling at public swimming pools is pretty absurd, but that’s the fun of the series. We love the characters, and we love the strange world they inhabit, so it’s easy to invest in their development.

It’s a lot like pro-wrestling in that regard, in that there are heel turns and face turns (i.e. characters switching sides), clearly defined stakes for the characters, and showdowns that reset the cycle of confrontation. It doesn’t need to be taken too seriously beyond the core lessons of right vs. wrong, and good vs. evil.

And for “Karate Kid” fans in particular, the writers pay such attention to detail that even the most obscure references from the films become salient plot points for the show.

Though a lot gets resolved in season five, there are still several dangling plot threads to tie up in a potential season six, not to mention plenty of ways to bring The Next Karate Kid into the fold as well.

Cobra Kai: Season 4

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Comedy;
Not rated.
Stars Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni Decenzo, Peyton List, Martin Kove, Vanessa Rubio, Thomas Ian Griffith.

The creators of “Cobra Kai” have the show firing on all cylinders in its fourth season, bringing to a head storylines dating back to the original “Karate Kid” trilogy from the 1980s.

In fact, season four of “Cobra Kai” is so good it retroactively makes The Karate Kid Part III almost watchable.

The third season ended with the stakes set for an epic showdown, as the rival dojos agreed to let the next All-Valley Tournament decide their fates, with the losing factions shutting down. Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) broke free from Cobra Kai and his former sensei, Kreese (Martin Kove), to form his own dogo, Eagle Fang. He reluctantly forms an alliance with his old rival, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) to take down Kreese, who turns to help from his old pal Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), the main villain from The Karate Kid Part III.

Silver, a wealthy industrialist who has mellowed out with age, needs some convincing to return to the fold, in one of many scenes in which the show knowingly, necessarily and hilariously picks apart the absurdity and stupidity of the awful Part III.

Meanwhile, Johnny and Daniel’s clashing styles threaten to upend their partnership as the rivalries between their students and those of Cobra Kai only grow more intense, particularly the feuds between Daniel’s daughter Samantha (Mary Mouser) and “Queen Cobra” Tory (Peyton List), and Johnny’s own son (Tanner Buchanan), who joined Cobra Kai to take on Johnny’s prized student, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña).

However, the show doesn’t paint the characters as simple heroes and villains, but offers shading to their personalities to make them sympathetic regardless of which factions to which they belong. When the tournament finally plays out over the season’s epic finale, there are so many angles culminating that it’s nearly impossible to figure out how they are going to play out, which only adds to the palpable excitement of the episodes.

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As with the previous seasons of the series, the abundant references to “Karate Kid” lore and its tangents, and 1980s culture in general, make this an easy sell to franchise fans, but the show is also developing into a decent character piece with a lot to say about bullying, parenting and the power of self-reflection.

While the season provides some satisfying payoffs to story arcs and conflicts that have been years in the making, it also sets the stage for some intriguing new directions, steering the story in a way that’s just begging for a certain Oscar winner who starred in The Next Karate Kid to show up in season five.

Cobra Kai: Season 3

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Drama;
Not rated.
Stars Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni Decenzo, Peyton List, Martin Kove.

With its third season, “Cobra Kai” continues to deliver everything a “Karate Kid” fan could hope for, and more.

With the confidence of two hugely popular seasons behind them, and a fresh move to Netflix, the show’s creators have taken the deepest dive yet into the franchise’s history, revisiting beloved characters while continuing to build upon the storylines for its new generation of characters.

The show even finds time to poke fun at itself and the admittedly goofy premise that enough high school kids nowadays would be into karate that worrying about the casual violence of roving karate gangs becomes a necessary issue of local civic leaders and school board members.

The season picks up in the aftermath of last season’s all-out brawl between the students of the Cobra Kai dojo trained by Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and those of Miyagi-Do trained by Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), the two rivals from the 1984 original The Karate Kid.

With his ace student, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), seriously injured and in the hospital, Johnny questions the “No Mercy” underpinnings of the Cobra Kai way just as his former sensei, John Kreese (Martin Kove), outmaneuvers him for control of the dojo.

Meanwhile, Daniel travels to Japan, setting of the second “Karate Kid” movie, in hopes of saving his car dealership, and learns valuable life lessons from some old friends.

The season also delves into Kreese’s backstory, derived mostly from the third movie, showing flashbacks to his time in Vietnam when he first embraced the ruthlessness he has been preaching ever since.

The result is a delicious 10-episode meal of nostalgia. I suppose one doesn’t have to have seen the “Karate Kid” movies to enjoy the show, but familiarity with them will certainly make one appreciate it more, particularly in the final two episodes and the return of the one character who could possibly put Johnny and Daniel’s feud into the proper perspective, and put both of them in their place.

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Looking at the structure of the storylines, the creators seem to be taking almost as much influence from professional wrestling as they are “Karate Kid” movies, with characters forming factions, teaming up and switching allegiances to set up the next big pay-per-view-style confrontation.

The battlelines drawn in season three provide the set-up for what should be an explosive fourth season with the All-Valley championship on the line.

To coincide with the Jan. 1 premiere of all episodes of the third season, Netflix has bowed a new half-hour interview/sketch-comedy show called “The Netflix Afterparty,” hosted by David Spade. The first episode features cast-members from “Cobra Kai” discussing the new season.

‘Cobra Kai’ Moving to Netflix

The Karate Kid sequel series “Cobra Kai” has found a new home in Netflix, which will present the third season of the digital original show. The first two seasons, which were presented in 2018 and 2019 by the YouTube Premium streaming service, also will be available on Netflix later this year.

The show, produced by Sony Pictures Television, is a continuation of the “Karate Kid” franchise that began in 1984 and spawned three sequels and a remake. The show is set 35 years after the All Valley Karate Tournament that saw Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) defeat Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), and finds down-on-his-luck Johnny seeking redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo. The raises the ire of Daniel, who now runs a successful car dealership but struggles to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of Mr. Miyagi.

Their conflict carries over into a new generation of students, including Daniel’s teenage daughter and Johnny’s estranged teenage son. Further complicating events is the return of Johnny’s former sensei, John Kreese (Martin Kove), who seeks to restore Cobra Kai to its former glory just as Johnny begins to regret the dojo’s ruthless legacy of victory at all costs.

“The appeal of the ‘Karate Kid’ saga is timeless, and ‘Cobra Kai’ picks up right where it left off without missing a beat. The rivalry between Daniel and Johnny is one for the ages, and the show has a ton of heart and is a lot of fun,” Brian Wright, VP of original series at Netflix, said in a statement. “We can’t wait to introduce a new generation of fans to Cobra Kai and are thrilled to be its new home around the world.”

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“Cobra Kai” is written and executive produced by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg via their production company, Counterbalance Entertainment.

“Making Cobra Kai has been a dream come true for us since day one,” Heald, Hurwitz and Schlossberg said in a statement. “We are thankful for the tireless dedication of Jeff Frost, Chris Parnell, Jason Clodfelter, Karen Tatevosian, and all our partners at Sony for finding us a new home where we can not only continue the series, but also explore opportunities to further expand the ‘Karate Kid’ universe. We are beyond excited to join our new partners at Netflix and look forward to the show reaching the massive global audience who loves this franchise as much as we do.”

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The first two seasons of the show are also available on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

YouTube Red Original Series ‘Cobra Kai’ Bowing Premiere Episodes With ‘The Karate Kid’ Theatrical Screening

The 1984 box office hit The Karate Kid will have a one-day theatrical screening April 25 in 700 theaters nationwide to promote upcoming YouTube Red Original series “Cobra Kai.”

The new series from Sony Pictures Television debuts at the Tribeca Film Festival April 24 and begins streaming May 2 on YouTube Red.

A commercial success, the original movie spawned a franchise of memorabilia, three sequels, a television series, and a 2010 remake featuring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.

Ralph Macchio, who played young high schooler Daniel Russo in the original Karate Kid (along with the late Pat Morita and William Zabka), returns as a family man operating a string of car dealerships. His life become intertwined with high school adversary Johnny Lawrence (Zabka), who seeks redemption reopening the famous Cobra Kai karate dojo.

“A beloved American classic, The Karate Kid film continues to be one of the most searched entertainment properties on YouTube,” Susanne Daniels, global head of original content at YouTube, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to recreate the world inside the dojo in this exciting new YouTube Red Original Series, featuring iconic cast members from the original film.”

Tickets for “Cobra Kai: Premiere Feat. The Karate Kid” can be purchased beginning Friday, March 23, at www.FathomEvents.com or participating theater box offices.